Finally we have gone off the tourist track and can most likely say we have been somewhere in Vietnam no one else has. With extra time on our hands we set off for Vietnam's first national park, Cuc Phoung. Because it's off the tourist route, to get here requires local buses then local transport (taxi/moto-taxi). With everything planned we bought our tickets to the nearby town of Nho Quan. What we didn't expect was to get on bus headed to Ninh Binh, we asked and they said they were going to where we wanted, so we felt a bit better but still unconvinced. When the bus "arrived" we knew we had been conned in someway, as we were neither at Ninh Binh nor Nho Quan, in fact about 20km away from either. With taxis and motorbikes waiting we knew there must be some set up here. Rather than moan or wait for another bus, we paid the extra $5 and hopped on and headed for Cuc Phoung (for real this time).
We were greeted by a nice lady full of information and eager to plan our stay. We batted her away and settled down in a stilt-house, cozy enough. We tried to order dinner in the local restaurant but it turns out, from 3 sides of A4 menu, they only had pork curry. Pork curry it had to be, but luckily it was good.
For our next day we planned a trip to the primate rescue centre, followed by a short walk into the national park. As it turns out, there is more life in Vietnam than we gave it credit for, even though it is mostly insects and concentrated in these parks. However, the insects are about 10 times bigger than anything we have seen, almost pre-historic. The stick insects are about 12 inches long, millipedes look like snakes, grasshoppers make quite a loud ripple (because they are indeed bigger) and on average the butterflies and moths are also big. This was mostly all seen on our walk, at the end of which was a cave.
We had a chat with a tour group who are passing thorough, they seemed a bit tense, with bad group dynamics. We are glad we are planning this ourselves.
Tomorrow We will go even deeper, with wheels under our legs.